ARDMORE, Pa. – The U.S. Walker Cup team gathered around Merion Golf Club’s first tee at 9:45 Thursday morning, Brendan Gielow hitting the squad’s opening shot a little left in the rough. Peter Uihlein followed with an iron over the left fairway bunker and onto the fairway. Adam Mitchell, Rickie Fowler and Morgan Hoffmann all split the middle of the fairway.
It would have been a great start to the week for the U.S. Walker Cup team – if it hadn’t already played 150 or so holes.
Things actually kicked off last weekend at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore, where the team gathered and began its string of “about 30ish holes a day,” according to Hoffmann. (Meanwhile, the Great Britain & Ireland team was busy roughing it at Pine Valley GC in New Jersey.)
“We’ve played a lot of golf,” Uihlein said. “I don’t even remember (how many holes we’ve played each day).”
The U.S. team got to Merion on Monday for its first of three private practice days before the public is allowed to watch Friday (though 2 to 3 inches of rain is expected during the next 24 hours in the Philadelphia area.)
Here’s Brian Harman’s review of Merion, where the rough already is high and the wind is blowing strong: “Really tough – really, really, really tough.”
The entire U.S. team played together Thursday but split into five pairs to practice for the foursomes (alternate shot) format that will be played during the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions.
Uihlein teamed with Nathan Smith; Mitchell with Cameron Tringale; Fowler with Bud Cauley; Gielow with Drew Weaver; and Harman with Hoffmann.
“We have similar styles,” Hoffmann, a sophomore at Oklahoma State, said on his pairing with his former rival Harman, a recent Georgia graduate. “We’re both aggressive players.”
Mitchell, on the other hand, said he wasn’t sure if Tringale would be he his partner come game time. Official pairings for Saturday’s matches will be announced Friday evening during the opening ceremony.